Sources of Individual Differences in Children's Understanding of Fractions


  • This research was supported in part by Award R01HD053714 from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development (NICHD) to Vanderbilt University; by Grant R37 HD045914 from NICHD to the University of Missouri; by Grant R324C100004 from the Institute of Education Sciences in the U.S. Department of Education to the University of Delaware with subcontracts to Vanderbilt University and to Camegie Mellon University; and by Core Grant HD15052 from NICHD. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the NICHD, the National Institutes of Health, or the U.S. Department of Education.


Longitudinal associations of domain-general and numerical competencies with individual differences in children's understanding of fractions were investigated. Children (n = 163) were assessed at 6 years of age on domain-general (nonverbal reasoning, language, attentive behavior, executive control, visual-spatial memory) and numerical (number knowledge) competencies; at 7 years on whole-number arithmetic computations and number line estimation; and at 10 years on fraction concepts. Mediation analyses controlling for general mathematics ability and general academic ability revealed that numerical and mathematical competencies were direct predictors of fraction concepts, whereas domain-general competencies supported the acquisition of fraction concepts via whole-number arithmetic computations or number line estimation. Results indicate multiple pathways to fraction competence.